Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 74

COLUMN Shop of Hard Knocks

A BETTER BIRD

Merging Concepts to Improve on a Classic
By Will Kelly

H

ave you ever wondered what was going
on in Ted McCarty's head as he wrangled
a group of engineers and craftsmen to
create the ES-335 or the Firebird?
Every first-year engineering student knows
"form follows function." But when "art" is
an integral component of design, does the
axiom hold true? Input from players and
toolmakers equally influenced the giants of
musical industry, and Ted's greatest strength
was bringing together differing perspectives to
create a cogent statement in instrument form.
My path to guitar building is much the same;
I challenge myself to reinterpret classic designs
and address inherent shortcomings.
Anyone who has played a vintage or reissue
Gibson Firebird is keenly aware of its infamous
"neck dive"; its thin, light body coupled to a
long neck mounted very close to the edge of the
body combine with heavy banjo-style tuners
to create a tendency for the headstock to dip
when the neck is released from the player's grip.

I do several things to counter this, including
a deeper neck set.
Firebirds are also
known for their thin,
1
"biting" tone. Some
alter it by installing humbuckers. But
what if you prefer the
sound of the standard
P-90s or mini-humbuckers? One remedy
is another of McCarty's innovations
- the semi-hollow
approach of his ES
guitars introduced in
1958. A solid center
block with hollow
"wings" gave full tone
to a thin-bodied electric. Today, it's viewed
as a classic design.

2

3

VINTAGE GUITAR

74

March 2018

1) For my version of the Firebird, I use
bookmatched slabs of flame maple measuring
8" x 20" x 2", one to create a one-piece center
block and outside frame, the other for the top
and rear after they're cut to 3/8" thick. Here's a
tracing of the body on one of the slabs.
2) I used a band saw to cut the outline, then,
with a scribe-marking gauge, marked the thickness of the side rims and center block by tracing
a 1/2"-wide border around the inside perimeter.
3) After drilling two 3/8" pilot holes in the
corners of the interior rim, I used a jigsaw
to cut along the scribed inner lines. I lightly
sanded all pieces to remove saw marks. At this
point, I had a complete inner-body section. I
made the side walls 1/2" thick, to add weight
for counterbalance.
4) Here's the inner core of the body - center
block and 1/2"-thick rims. The 1"-thick center


http://www.vintageguitar.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - Cover
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - IFC
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 3
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 4
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 5
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 6
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 7
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 8
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 9
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - Contents
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 11
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 12
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 13
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 14
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 15
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 16
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 17
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 18
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 19
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 20
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 21
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 22
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 23
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 24
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 25
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 26
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 27
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 28
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 29
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 30
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 31
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 32
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 33
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 34
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 35
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 36
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 37
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 38
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 39
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 40
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 41
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 42
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 43
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 44
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 45
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 46
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 47
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 48
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 49
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 50
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 51
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 52
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 53
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 54
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 55
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 56
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 57
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 58
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 59
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 60
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 61
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 62
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 63
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 64
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 65
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 66
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 67
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 68
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 69
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 70
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 71
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 72
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 73
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 74
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 75
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 76
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 77
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 78
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 79
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 80
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 81
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 82
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 83
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 84
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 85
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 86
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 87
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 88
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 89
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 90
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 91
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 92
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 93
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 94
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 95
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 96
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 97
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 98
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 99
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 100
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 101
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 102
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 103
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 104
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 105
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 106
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 107
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 108
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 109
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 110
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 111
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 112
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 113
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 114
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 115
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 116
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 117
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 118
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 119
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 120
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 121
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 122
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 123
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 124
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 125
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 126
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 127
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 128
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 129
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 130
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 131
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 132
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 133
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 134
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 135
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 136
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 137
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 138
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 139
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 140
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 141
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 142
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 143
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 144
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 145
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 146
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - IBC
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - BC
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201903_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201902_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201901_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201812_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201811_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201810_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201809_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201808_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201807_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201805_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201804_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201803_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201802_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201801_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/2018priceguide_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201712_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201711_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201710_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201709_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201708_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201707_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201706_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201705_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201704_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201703_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201702_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201701_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201612_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201611_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201609_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201607_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vintageguitar/201606_v2
http://www.nxtbookMEDIA.com